The Human Race (2014)

Directed By: Paul Hough
Written By: Paul Hough
Starring: Paul McCarthy-Boyington
  Eddie McGee
  Trista Robinson
The Human Race

“Only one will win. The School…The House…The Prison…Are Safe. Follow the arrows, or you will die. Stay on the path, or you will die. If you are lapped twice, you will die. Do not touch the grass, or you will die.”

That is essentially the plot of 2014’s The Human Race. 80 complete strangers come to in an unknown location, and are issued by a voice in their head, with the rules of this race for survival. There’s only one thing they know for certain. Race…or die.

Within the first 10 minutes of the film, you know it’s going to be one that pulls no punches. You’re given a brief back story of one of the ‘competitors’; a young woman who fought, and beat cancer. The film instantly gives you the impression that this will be the heroine of the move who continues her triumph over adversity, and you are wrong. She’s the first to go, in a head exploding graphic way. It’s in this bold action, reminiscent of Janet Leigh very quickly being offed in Psycho, that you know no one’s safe, so don’t pick any favourites. This is a film that’s guaranteed to shock you from the outset, and throughout.

Among the 80 competitors, there’s the usual bevy of archetypes. Be it the snooty businesswoman, the dumb and reckless thugs, the elderly, priests, school children (yes, I said NO ONE was safe), there’s a real smorgasbord that reflects American society.

As you move through the film, you realise the main character focus is Eddie, a war veteran who lost his leg in combat so gets around on crutches. He’s a strong willed character, who helps others and is willing to put himself in danger and risk death for the sake of keeping as many people alive. Relative unknown actor (and former US Big Brother winner) Eddie McGee plays the part confidently.

Perhaps the greatest triumph of The Human Race is that in the small time you’re given to get to know the characters you find yourself rooting for them to win, but at the same time have that constant foreboding feeling that sooner or later, they’re going to meet a bloody end.

Of course, it’s not without its flaws. The acting by the majority of the cast is suspect at best, and some are so awful you’ll be hoping they accidentally step on the grass. The ending too is a colossal letdown. If it had only ended just a couple of minutes sooner then all would have been well. This film didn’t need a twist, but with the inclusion of one, it goes from reasonably believable to downright ridiculous.

All in all, The Human Race is a great concept, let down by some minor flaws, and a completely unnecessary twist. There are several gutsy ‘I can’t believe they showed that’ moments that will genuinely shock you and have your stomach churning. In this sense it is a success. It’s also a not-so-subtle overview of society as a whole, and how different people would react under such extreme circumstances. Take what political messages you want from it, or leave them at the starting line. Either way, it’s still bloody good fun.

Released in March 2014 to UK audiences The Human Race is a very worthwhile watch, if a little frustrating at times.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

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